Posted On: March 5, 2012 by Richard Oppenheim

Student Claims School Violated Her First Amendment Rights

A Missouri high school student has filed a lawsuit against her high school for violating her First Amendment rights. The suit, which was filed in federal court against the Dixon R-I School District, claims the student was forced to remove posters that supported a pro-life day of silence even though other students were allowed to display posters supporting other causes.

Free%20Speech%20Zone.jpgThe student attends Dixon High School and is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). The ADF accuses the school district of censorship in the case. “The case law in this is really clear. The supreme courts down to the local courts have held when a student is in school they don’t give up their First Amendment rights,” said Matt Sharp, the ADF attorney who is handling the case.

This is not the first time the ADF has defended a student who was censored for sharing written material that promoted the student's personal beliefs. In 2011, the organization prevailed in a case that concerned a student who was forbidden to give information about his church to fellow students at a Little Rock, Arkansas, school.

The school district has not issued a public statement regarding the lawsuit. According to district superintendent Dawna Burrow, the district has yet to be served with the suit. Once served, the school district must file a response within 20 days.

Official district policy forbids students from promoting any events or activities that are not sponsored by the school or that further the school's curriculum. However, the ADF alleges that school officials have been willing to look the other way when students have promoted other events and activities that were not school-related. In fact, the student at the center of the lawsuit was allowed to display posters for the same event during the prior school year.

The ADF has stated that if the school district relents and approves the display of the posters, it will consider dropping the lawsuit.